I had planned to talk about making layer cakes today, since it’s my mom’s birthday and Sunday’s my birthday.
Little did I know when I was planning this that the venerable Erie Times-News would be taking the cake with its 125th edition today.
So there’s never, ever, been a better time to talk about cake.
Of course, I wrote the fist sentence here and decided I couldn’t do it without a piece of the cake in our lunchroom, so I sit and type, I’m trying not to get chocolate cake crumbs all over the place. It’s setting the mood.
Thus fortified, I’ll share my mother’s wisdom, which she bestowed upon me after I tried valiantly and failed spectacularly to construct a 2-layer chocolate cake on Valentine’s Day. I posted a picture of my forlorn creation, which looked more like a geologic phenomenon than dessert.
“I saw that photo and knew exactly what you did,” she said — without laughing, bless her heart.
Grease and flour the pans. (I had just sprayed them with cooking spray.)
Don’t leave the layers in the cake pans too long. Let them cool a little bit, Mom said, but in a few minutes, you want to get them out of there to cool properly on a wire rack. If you leave them in too long, they’ll stick, making craters in your layers that no amount of frosting can hide. (Believe me, I tried.)
To get them out, put a plate over the pan and turn the pan over. With any luck, the cake will come out in one piece.
Cool the layers thoroughly. If they’re warm at all, they’ll melt the frosting and stuff will start sliding around.
Here’s the important part: Put the bottom layer TOP DOWN on the cake plate. The squared-off bottom should face up, to keep the cake level.
Frost the top of the bottom layer, and place the second layer right-side up, with the flat base of it down on the frosted bottom layer.
Another big one, let the cake sit out UNFROSTED for a few hours to let the top dry out just a tad. This will help prevent the surface of the cake from coming off and getting all mixed into the frosting.